Last night I was listening to an episode of The Lively Show, which has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts (if you've never heard of it, you should totally check it out). And although this particular episode was on mindfulness, manifestation, and attracting a partner, the thing that resonated with me the most was none of the above. It was when the discussion of "online presences came up", initially in regards to online dating, but expanded to much more than that.
When Matthew Hussey - the guest on the episode- was asked about what he looks for in a partner, he talked about how he didn't want "the girl who takes selfies in the gym". He expanded on this, talking about how narcissistic women - meaning those who continuously are wrapped up in posting photos of themselves online - are such a turn off for men, and for a lot of people, in general. And for some reason, this really got me thinking deeply about myself, and how I come across to the world.
If you're reading this, then you obviously know that I post photos of myself online. Namely, a lot of photos of myself. But does this behavior make me a narcissist?
Yes, I post a lot of photos of myself, and spend a good amount of my free time having my photo taken. But I'm not an "Instagram model", nor do I really care to be one. I may do quite a few modeling gigs here and there, but I would never consider myself a model. I am, first and foremost, a style blogger. A style blogger with two main intentions behind capturing photos of herself: 1. to share my personal style (duh) and 2. to share the art I love creating (double duh).
And as I type this out, I'm silently thinking to myself, "Is this me trying to justify my narcissistic ways?" "Am I so narcissistic that I have to justify my narcissistic ways to make myself feel okay?"
No, no, no. That's not what's going on here.
I would not, by any means, consider myself a narcissist. I'm just as important as the next person. I'm confident and comfortable with how I look. In fact, I'm not afraid to say that I kind of like the way that I look. But it wasn't always this way. Two years ago, I would've told you that I hated the way I looked. That I spent more time than I would've liked to admit, standing in front of a mirror and criticizing my body. I still struggle with some body dysmorphic thoughts sometimes, but its certainly not that bad. Maybe one day i'll talk more about body image, but right now, i'm going off on too much of a tangent *oops*.
I don't believe that posting photos of yourself online entails total narcissism... all the time. In my case, I post photos of myself 95% of the time for just the fashion purposes. To show you what I'm wearing, etc. The other 5%? Well, I post photos of my face purely because I like them and want to share something about them. Maybe it's more of a creative shot, with a nice background and great exposure. Or, maybe it was one of those rare instances where I put on a full face of makeup and I wanted to share it. Narcissistic? Perhaps. Does that make me a narcissist? Nah.
To me, a narcissist is someone who can't live in the moment. Someone who has to constantly be absorbed in themselves at all time, whether it's Snapchatting every single thing they do, or posting photos of themselves at the oddest times (gym selfies, doctor selfies, dentist selfies, etc.) Don't get me wrong, it's awesome to see people who are connected to the social world, but sometimes, it just becomes too much connection.
So how do we tame that inner narcissist? Well, I have a theory. I think that, the more time we give to ourselves, the less we feel the need to constantly be sharing our lives with others. Let me elaborate.
I think that perhaps, there's some sort of correlation between self-love and self-promotion. Meaning, the more you give of one, the less you give of the other. So let's say you do what I do: spend time meditating, going places by yourself, sitting outside and reading alone, etc. The more you do that, the less inclined you are to spend those moments snapchatting, instagramming, tweeting, etc. Now don't get me wrong, you can usually find me snapping a quick Instagram photo of the scenery around me, if I find myself in a pretty place, but I try to spend these moments offline, as much as possible.
However, on the flip side, I think that the more time you spend engaged in your online presence, the less you find yourself truly living in the moment, whether that be through doing solo activities like mediating or reading, or simply taking a walk by yourself. As a sociology major, this theory is particularly interesting to me, so much so that maybe i'll test it out one day.
Regardless, I believe the only way to tame our inner narcissist is to show ourselves some self-love. Even if our personal "brands" are built around ourselves, I believe it's completely possible to remain humble, while still remaining engaged. It's definitely something I'll always be working on getting the perfect balance of.
But then again, nobody is perfect.